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Is there a such thing as too much base?

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Is there a such thing as too much base?

Old 03-11-11, 12:59 PM
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Is there a such thing as too much base?

I'm posing this question because I'm finding myself in a training dilemma. I just came off my first season of racing cyclocross and found myself completely overtrained and burnt out. However, I'm in love with bike racing and I'm fairly certain I want to keep cross' as my primary discipline.

The point is to keep my desire to race in check, I thought I would try out a few crits during the road season. However, due to recent unemployment et cetera buying a race-able road bike may not be an option. When and if I have money in the near future, it will be more beneficial for me to throw it at my cross' bike. Plus road would only be a filler for cross'.

I've also come to the realization that having only been cycling seriously for a year, I may not even have that much base fitness to work with in general. Trying to race two seasons will probably just result in mediocrity/disaster.

As of today I've put in 8 weeks base, with 2 being recovery weeks and I'm starting to see my fitness come back stronger than ever. I'm wondering if it would be beneficial to just continue with base until cross' starts, Late August in New England with a few races sprinkled throughout September with the real heat starting in October where I would most likely try to peak, or if there's a such thing as putting in too much base. I realize the most difficult part of this would be avoiding riding too fast when it starts getting warmer out.

From what I've drawn from reading training books I'm not sure what conclusion to make, for example certain books suggest 12 weeks of base while others suggest for a beginning cyclist and upwards of 30.

Does anyone have any insight or experience to offer?
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Old 03-12-11, 06:13 AM
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Don't trust cycle training books automatically. The physiology in a lot of them is junk, especially the older ones. For cross you should be using Simon Burney's book - get a copy now!

Before training for crits, I think you should work out why you had that overtrained feeling. My guess is that you may have done the wrong training for cross.

Cross is completely unlike the road race that most of these books assume. It's not just shorter than some road events but the effort is much uneven - in physiological terms, you have to train the creatine-phosphate and lactic-acid anaerobic metabolisms much more than a road racer does, even one preparing for crits. (The good news is that this is better for your general health.) This means less old-style base work and more intervals - riding a crosser fast offroad is a series of repeated sprints with periods of moderate activity for recovery rather than steady state effort, so the best training is to sprint repeatedly.

The good news is that this should raise your lactate threshold high enough to make you pretty dangerous in a crit race as long as you have the cornering and tactical skills. The crit racer I used to know swore by intervals; he added some plyometrics in, but that was pretty advanced stuff and needed a lot of care. I think his program was very like this:

https://www.ehow.co.uk/how_6607636_tr...bike-race.html

If you do go with plyo training, watch out for muscle shortening - I didn't! I've read that kettlebell training is a safer substitute now.

(I envy you - I ride a crosser but running is verboten for me - too many foot problems; I'd love to race.)

Last edited by meanwhile; 03-12-11 at 06:23 AM.
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Old 03-12-11, 06:51 AM
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I'm trying to remember what the guy told me that his coach told him - it was something like "The way to win a crit isn't to train to ride the course in the shortest possible time alone. It's to train to have the power to grab the optimum tactical position in the group of potential winners, and to then win the final sprint." But it was *much* catchier.

Also, re intervals: a few years ago I came back to cycling after several years off the bike, did minimal base followed by nothing hill intervals, and then found my one to three hour offroad circuits were ***damn*** fast. Intervals work!
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Old 03-12-11, 06:52 PM
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To be quite honest, I've noticed that cross training seems to parallel mountain bike training nicely. I'd invest in some mountain resources and go from there. The stuff for road will work, but I don' think it will be totally optimal.
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Old 03-14-11, 09:41 AM
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This was my thread, I posted it from the wrong user name. Anyway reading more on training for cross' Cyclocross magazine did an article on base for cross https://www.cxmagazine.com/training-f...michael-birner

I've found some other info on base specifically for cross'. That satisfies that need, but in the mean time I just love riding my bike, so if I can't afford a decent raceable road bike, I'll prob just keep up with lighter base work. Take a little bit of time off, and then dig into the cross' specific base work. I mean I could race a crit on my cross' bike, but no matter how I set up the bars and stem there's nothing aero about the frames riding position.
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Old 03-14-11, 01:33 PM
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"... if there's a such thing as putting in too much base"

Not sure about CX but for road cycling a good way to know when base development is at a good stopping point is when you produce the same power/speed at the same or lower RPE/HR. Or, at the same RPE/HR you are faster. Can measure this by doing regular TT's of a common ride you do. Probably need a power meter to compare power vs HR graphs and how they are sloping relative to each other.

This way of thinking seems common for road cycling given that endurance gets greatly improved by developing the aerobic system. I'm not an expert on CX, but I think CX has diff factors that really boost performance.
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Old 03-14-11, 01:42 PM
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Did you take a break after cx season, or jump right into base training? I think it's important to take a break at the end of your racing season. I take the next month "off", meaning that I ride when I feel like it and don't have any structure to my training. (as a road racer the end of my season is late september).

The year I didn't do that I was so sick of cycling by the end of the next spring that I quit riding for 8 years.

If you are feeling burnt out I suggest taking some time off.
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Old 03-14-11, 05:38 PM
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Originally Posted by ericm979
Did you take a break after cx season, or jump right into base training? I think it's important to take a break at the end of your racing season. I take the next month "off", meaning that I ride when I feel like it and don't have any structure to my training. (as a road racer the end of my season is late september).

The year I didn't do that I was so sick of cycling by the end of the next spring that I quit riding for 8 years.

If you are feeling burnt out I suggest taking some time off.
^++
But note Eric doesn't say stop riding entirely. Best to keep some level of activity year-round. Just do a major change in activity level. Ride a little, hike a little, maybe do an unhurried bike tour, maybe take a couple weeks completely off.
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Old 03-16-11, 07:54 PM
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Originally Posted by ericm979
Did you take a break after cx season, or jump right into base training? I think it's important to take a break at the end of your racing season. I take the next month "off", meaning that I ride when I feel like it and don't have any structure to my training. (as a road racer the end of my season is late september).

The year I didn't do that I was so sick of cycling by the end of the next spring that I quit riding for 8 years.

If you are feeling burnt out I suggest taking some time off.

I was so over trained by the end of cross' I had to take a month off. I diddn't do any riding, drank beer and enjoyed life.

Before I even started base I did a 3 week prep period where I lifted weights, did light trainer rides, and a bit of running.

I've really weaned myself into training again and it's great. I'm stronger than I was last year already and I haven't even pushed hard yet. I'm not doing an insane amount of base either, my longest rides are only 3 hours, since I'm not shooting to be able to long road races.

I think I'm on the right track, it's just difficult having goals that are so far away and seeing the crits popping up and wanting to race again.

Last edited by Scott_CX; 03-16-11 at 07:59 PM.
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